Under No Illusion

20 Mar
Two maiko performing in Gion.

Image via Wikipedia

Viewfromtheside’s Blog prompt: illusion.

I have always liked the Japanese as a race and culture and however else we habitually judge unfamiliar societies.  But their dignity in the face of one disaster after another this past week has left me full of admiration as well.  In almost any other country in the world, including my own, by now there would be looting and violence and protests.  Yet all we see on the news are polite bows as a soldier helps an elderly woman discover the body of her dead mother; lengthy queues outside food shops; people willingly taking on dangerous jobs for the greater good; decorum at every turn.  The agony these poor people are going through is etched in their faces, but not their behaviour.

I have always believed that civilisation is just an illusion and if we scratch the surface with even a minor disaster, savagery and selfishness will erupt.  I have never been more glad to be proved wrong.

22 Responses to “Under No Illusion”

  1. frizztext March 20, 2011 at 16:20 #

    you wrote: “Yet all we see on the news are polite bows as a soldier helps an elderly woman discover the body of her dead mother; lengthy queues outside food shops; people willingly taking on dangerous jobs for the greater good…”
    compare that with the behavior in Haiti, where the UN was forced to give food only to female persons, because the male were not able to stand in a row …


    • Tilly Bud March 21, 2011 at 12:23 #

      Dreadful, yet it’s hard to blame them; they must be starving.


  2. slpmartin March 20, 2011 at 16:26 #

    “KAMAISHI, Japan — Isolated reports of looting by desperate tsunami survivors have emerged in Japan, whose people have been widely applauded for their discipline in the face of appalling adversity…Masuya Misato, 33, a volunteer worker in Kamaishi, said he had witnessed several cases of smash-and-grab raids.” Every country has a few folks who will take advantage of the situation.


    • Paula Tohline Calhoun March 20, 2011 at 16:38 #

      slpmartin’s comments aside, I feel you are so right-on-the-money! slpmartin is correct, however, all societies have their opportunists and reprobates, but there are also various versions of Jean Valjean everywhere, who desperately will seek whatever means they can in order to feed their families.

      Our eldest son Josh is also a “Japanophile” who visited the country while in high school, and studied in Japan for a year while in college. Although 6’4″ tall, and an imposing, very blond and curly-haired caucasian, he was nevertheless dearly loved by the peoples of that nation because of his own quiet, polite, and deferential – quite Asian in character – nature. (He also speaks their language, both literally and figuratively.) He has been unable so far to be in contact with his friends in japan. We are praying for their safety.


      • viewfromtheside March 20, 2011 at 23:31 #

        It is so hard to know that you have friends who could be so badly affected bu a disaster. Holding thumbs for him and his friends tht they are ok


    • Tilly Bud March 21, 2011 at 12:24 #

      This comment appeared half way down the page. I was answering slpmartin.

      Yes, I don’t doubt it. I was talking general impressions but there are bound to be some who don’t behave that way. But if it was anywhere else the news would be showing us lots of images of angry, shouting crowds. I haven’t seen any come out of Japan.


  3. vivinfrance March 20, 2011 at 18:39 #

    Well said, Tilly. There has been an appeal on the BQL forum to quilters to send quilts to keep them warm, but they only want new quilts. This seems daft to me: they need them now, not in a couple of months time, which is the minimum time for making a bed-size quilt. I have a hardly-used double-bed-sized quilt which has been on a guest bed, plus a couple of others which are slightly more used. But apart from the Red Cross – which are asking for new only – I don’t know where to send them. The BQL forum is buzzing with people who want to help.


    • Tilly Bud March 21, 2011 at 12:31 #

      What’s BQL? A quilting forum?

      I suppose they’re worried about contaminents like bed bugs (no offence intended! I’m talking in general). If they’re not new, the Red Cross will have to clean them. Health & Safety and all that.

      It reminds me of the government (I can’t remember which one) a few years ago who turned down food for it’s starving population because it was sourced from gm crops.


  4. gigihawaii March 20, 2011 at 19:02 #

    It’s too bad there has been some looting in Japan, but it is not widespread, I assure you.


    • Tilly Bud March 21, 2011 at 12:32 #

      I believe you. I just can’t see it happening on a wide scale.


  5. kateshrewsday March 20, 2011 at 20:12 #

    Great post, Tilly. Did you hear all the major branches of the Japanese Mafia are risking life and limb to bring supplies into contaminated areas: extraordinary…


  6. nrhatch March 20, 2011 at 20:31 #

    It is a key moment to reflect on the teachings of Gandhi.

    When asked what he thought of Western civilization, Gandhi responded, “I think it would be a good idea.”


  7. viewfromtheside March 20, 2011 at 23:32 #

    there will always be a few. but as you say, the culture os one of politeness and caring, a self disciplined people of education and moralsand kindness


  8. musings March 21, 2011 at 08:35 #

    It is rather extraordinary. We keep asking my aunt in Sendai what they could use and she keeps telling us there are people far worse off than they are. She says it’s something they can bear for now. My cousin sent me a link to donate for everyone and not just them. Good grief!


  9. Cindy March 21, 2011 at 17:17 #

    Brilliant take on the prompt, nice one, Tilly!



  1. Roundup of the Illusions « Viewfromtheside's Blog - March 21, 2011

    […] The laughing housewife (Tilly) […]


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